22 April 2018

Would Fat Have Become A Fad?

Practically from the moment Specialized introduced the "Stumpjumper" in 1981, would-be pundits said that mountain bikes were a "fad."  Some of those wise folk were in Schwinn's management, which may be a reason why the company filed for bankruptcy a decade later.

Anyway, any number of things in the bike world have been called "fads" almost from the moment they saw the light of day.  One of them is the "fat bike", which typically sports tires 3 inches or more in width.  Although I have never ridden, and probably won't ride, such a bike myself, I am not about to sound its death knell, even if most examples of the genre I've seen don't exactly fit in with my sense of aesthetics.

Still, though, I have to wonder whether "fat bikes" would have endured had they been introduced, say, 130 years ago. 

That is about the time "safety" bicycles appeared.  They are like the machines most of us ride today:  two wheels of the same size powered by a chain-driven drivetrain.  Before that, cyclists mounted "penny-farthings" with front wheels of 60 to 80 inches (150 to 200 centimeters).  Could such a bike have been made "fat"?

Looking at that photo, I can't help but to think that perhaps "fat" bikes would have been a fad that disappeared, say around 1890 if the first "fatties" had been high-wheelers!


  1. Wow justine, that is what we need here because of the way our road system has been allowed to become one long series of potholes! That tyre would not notice the holes and with such a light load would never wear out and being "tubeless would never get a flat. Shame that it is a pentycle...

  2. Thin might be in but fat is where it's at. On a slightly related note I have two bikes now rolling on 38's and I love it. Twenty years ago if you'd told me this would happen I would have said you were either on dope or dog food.

    Hope you're having a nice Sunday ride!

  3. Coline and Phillip--Twenty years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of riding a tire wider than 23C on anything that wasn't a mountain bike. Now I feel differently.

  4. Fat to the point where people notice physical impediment would not be trendy, IMO.